‘A vast underwater museum’: Greece plans to open shipwrecks and other submerged heritage sites for visitors to explore
Submerged ancient cities, rows of amphorae from the fifth century BC, anchors from Byzantine shipwrecks, Second World War aircrafts: Greek seas harbour a unique heritage that is gradually becoming accessible to the public, experienced divers and casual bathers alike.
In March, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports announced plans to open 91 shipwrecks—dating from 1868 to 1970—for recreational diving, lifting prior restrictions in a bid to drive tourism. Culture minister Lina Mendoni described the Greek seabed as “the underwater ark of our history” and a catalyst for “the sustainable development of local communities”. The secretary general of culture George Didaskalou promised divers a “vast underwater museum” to explore.
The development of Greece’s underwater archaeological sites “aims to make marine monuments accessible to the public and to protect them more efficiently”, says Pari Kalamara, the director of the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, which was established by the Greek government in 1976 to detect, research and preserve the country’s underwater heritage.
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